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News flash: Pope Francis isn’t saying anything new

I’ve kept quiet through a lot of the ridiculous stuff that goes on out there in the media world lately. To be honest, I just don’t have it in me anymore to bang my head against the wall of the blogosphere, but today I just can’t keep quiet. One word: EVOLUTION. Why, why, WHY is this breaking news? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Pope Francis. (See that photo over there on the left? I took it when I was THIS CLOSE to the pope two weeks ago. If I’d been just a little bit unhinged, I could have jumped that barrier and been in his popemobile. But I digress…) I love Pope Francis. (Remember my post from when he was elected, “My Pope Crush: He Had Me at Hola”? Oh wait, I’m digressing again.) So, anyway, I love Pope Francis, and I appreciate the fact that he wants to get the truth out there, but the truth is that his statements on evolution and the Big Bang theory are not new, not even close. The fact that the press — and a good chunk of the world, I guess — don’t seem to realize this and thinks the pope is making some landmark statement is just mind boggling to me. Read more

Year of Faith: Are you smarter than a fifth-grade religion teacher?

As part of our celebration of the Year of Faith and our commitment to reacquaint ourselves with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I thought it would be fun to post this catechism quiz that ran in Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly a short time ago.

See how well you do, and, remember, it’s not just about content but about the process of producing the catechism, which was a lot more entertaining than you might expect. Check it out. This intro will jump you to the OSV quiz link, but be sure to come back here and leave a note in the comment section.

Here we go…

By Mary DeTurris Poust

Despite being a worldwide best-seller, the Catechism of the Catholic Church can be a little intimidating to the average reader, with its 900-plus pages and copious footnotes. I know from experience. Several years ago, when I was first asked to put the Catechism into “plain English” in what would become “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism,” I wondered if I had the stamina to get through it and understand it in such a way that I could “translate.” But something wonderful happened on my way through Church doctrine: I discovered the poetry and beauty of a book that weaves all of Catholic teaching into one magnificent tapestry of faith and morals.

It’s no wonder that even now, as the Catechism marks its 20th anniversary, it continues to sell in record numbers, inspire spinoff publications, turn up in various digital formats, and more. From teens devouring the new “YouCat” version of the Catechism, to adults going through RCIA, to lifelong Catholics looking to strengthen their already deep faith, the Catechism has proved to be the answer to a prayer, or, at the very least, the answer to the many, many questions Catholics and others have about the Church and its teachings.

If you’ve never read the Catechism from cover to cover — and even if you have — there are will be things inside its pages that will surprise and even amuse you. Just about every topic you can imagine, and probably quite a few you can’t, fit into the Catholic picture. Don’t believe me? Take the quiz below and see if anything stumps you. This is not your grandmother’s Catechism, and it was never meant to be.

The answer key at the end of this section will provide you with the correct Catechism paragraph numbers for many questions you may want to explore further.

Have fun and, remember, no cheating. But you already knew that. Click HERE for the quiz.

Manic Monday: Here, there, and everywhere

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I’ve been showing up on various blogs, on various topics, in various places these days. It’s all good, although I feel pulled in a dozen directions. I thought I’d post links to my posts in case something strikes your fancy. Here we go…

Yesterday I was posting at Catholic Parent Network, a new website that serves up suggestions for parents trying to instill the faith in their children. I love the website’s subtitle: “Making sure the apple stays close to the tree.”

You’ll find my post under “Building Blocks: Helping Children Understand Prayer.” Click HERE to read that story, but be sure to check out the rest of CPN’s offerings, including posts on Catholic apps, countering the culture, raising big families, and specific prayers for the season. CPN also has a Facebook page, so stop by and “like” it when you get a chance.

I’ll be posting on CPN now and then, so check back often for other stories on Catholic parenting and more.

Last week, I also made an appearance at Catholic Moms Talk, a new blog featuring Catholic moms and the catechism. It’s a special effort as part of the Year of Faith, and I’m honored to be included among a great group of Catholic writing moms. I talked about my experience with the catechism, how it influenced my own faith life, and how I use it in my family and faith formation classes. Click HERE to read “A Catechism on Every Shelf.” I’ll be over at CMT on a frequent basis throughout the Year of Faith.

And, if you missed my Huffington Post piece to kick off the Year of Faith, click HERE to read “It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Catechism.” I’ll be back over at HuffPo next month with a piece to help you navigate the chaotic holiday season, so stay tuned for that. 

Just a reminder: If you are on Facebook, click HERE and “like” my author page. If you are on Twitter, follow me at MaryDTP.

Finally, I will be disabling my “Networked Blogs” feature on Facebook, so if you read the blog through that portal, please be sure to become a “fan” of my author page so you don’t miss any blog posts. For those of you who have emailed me to tell me you can’t leave comments, that’s a Networked Blogs issue, so this will rectify that. As long as you continue to come back through my regular blog address.

More big news to come about new books, new ventures, new speaking engagements, so check back early and often. Have a great week!

It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Catechism

To kick off the Year of Faith, which begins today and runs through Nov. 24, 2013, I’m talking catechism over at the Huffington Post religion blog today. Here we go:

It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Catechism

By Mary DeTurris Poust

Admit it: When you hear the word “catechism,” you’re eyes start to glaze over, or, if you’re of a certain age, you may even have flashbacks to those line drawings of a red-horned devil that once filled the pages of the old Baltimore Catechism. But if you haven’t tried the “new” Catechism of the Catholic Church (20 years is new in a Church that moves by the century), you’re really missing out on something remarkable.
This is where you can read about adultery, angels and environmentalism all in one place; where you come face to face with all those things you thought knew about the Catholic Church only to realize you didn’t really know the whole story after all.

Continue reading HERE.

Year of Faith: Let’s get this party started

We’re just days away from the start of the Year of Faith, a time of renewal, prayer, and study for Catholics around the world.

Pope Benedict XVI has specifically asked that Catholics spend time studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which, as you may recall, I covered page-by-page in my book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism.

Here’s what the pope had to say on the matter in his apostolic letter announcing the Year of Faith:

“From Sacred Scripture to the Fathers of the Church, from theological masters to the saints across the centuries, the Catechism provides a permanent record of the many ways in which the Church has meditated on the faith and made progress in doctrine so as to offer certitude to believers in their lives of faith.

“In its very structure, the Catechism of the Catholic Church follows the development of the faith right up to the great themes of daily life. On page after page, we find that what is presented here is no theory, but an encounter with a Person who lives within the Church.”

So I’m pretty psyched to get back on the catechism bandwagon and maybe bring some new folks along with me. Here’s what I’ll be doing to get the Year of Faith party started:

On Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, at 8:10 a.m. EST, I’ll be talking about the catechism and the Year of Faith with Brian Patrick on the Son Rise Morning Show. You can catch that on Sacred Heart Radio 740 AM and 89.5 FM in Cincinnati, Ohio, or you can go to this link and listen online. 

Then on Thursday, Oct. 11, the official start of the Year of Faith as well as the 20th anniversary of the publication of the catechism and the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, I’ll be kicking off a weekly series here on Not Strictly Spiritual.

Throughout the year, I plan to post some of my favorite catechism-related excerpts. Do you find it hard to believe I could actually have “favorites” from the catechism? It’s true. Despite how it looks in its intimidating, almost 1,000-page form, it’s actually a super cool read. Of course, if you don’t have time for 1,000 pages of catechism, there are always shorter, easier-to-read versions, like, oh, I don’t know, the Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism, which has an imprimatur, meaning it is all kosher according to the Church.

Finally, I’m happy to tell you that I’ll also be sharing posts occasionally throughout the Year of Faith over at Catholic Moms Talk. Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle was nice enough to invite me to join a cast of impressive Catholic moms who will be offering their take on the catechism as it relates to family life. Be sure to visit there regularly to see what we’re saying. (I’m sure I’ll find a way to let you know when I’m appearing over there.)

There will be more tantalizing catechism goings on in the months ahead, some I’m not at liberty to talk about just yet (doesn’t that sound intriguing?), so stay tuned. And make sure you have your catechism or your Complete Idiot’s Guide — or, better yet, both — on hand for the Year of Faith.

One parish’s plan for the Year of Faith

I received an unexpected email yesterday from an Alabama parish telling me the pastor had “placed a large order” for copies of my Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism for use as a text in his parish program for the Year of Faith. Obviously, that news made my day, but it also got me thinking…

Are there other parishes out there look for interesting ways to approach the Year of Faith, which begins on October 11 and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In Porta Fidei, his apostolic letter announcing the yearlong celebration, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that it should be a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world.”

“The ‘door of faith’ (Acts14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church,” the pope wrote.

What will you do this year to deepen your relationship with Christ and perhaps walk through the
“door of faith” anew, as you did at baptism? If you or your parish are looking for resources to help you with this endeavor, consider my Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism, which explains the catechism in plain English, was vetted by a theologian, and carries an imprimatur.

Or, you might want to try my Essential Guide to Catholic Prayer and the Mass, which covers not only popular Catholic devotions but silent prayer, pilgrimage, and a host of other prayer methods. In addition, it includes an entire section on the Mass, covering the new language as well as the whys and how-tos for those who’d like to refresh the Catholic teaching of their youth or deepen their already strong faith. It, too, carries an imprimatur.

Click HERE to read a review of my Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism. Click HERE to read a review of my Essential Guide to Catholic Prayer and the Mass, which one reviewer likened to a “textbook for Catholics.”

Amazon is showing a short wait for the Complete Idiot’s Guide, but I believe that’s a momentary glitch. You can also order via Barnes and Noble. And, of course, both books are available for Kindle and Nook, so you don’t have to wait at all! The catechism book is also available in Spanish. If you have any questions or want to know more about either of these books, feel free to email me at

The ‘lost generation’ everyone seems to miss

This is my post from OSV Daily Take today. I thought it was too important not to share here as well…

By Mary DeTurris Poust

About three years ago, I started giving workshops entitled: “The Lost Generation: Reaching Out to Adult Catholics Disconnected from the Faith.” The workshop grew out of emails, letters and in-person pleas I received in response to my book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism. People kept coming up to me, telling me they’d never learned what was in my book, and sharing the stories of why and how they fell away from the faith of their birth.

And so I began to explore what I labeled the “lost generation,” those Catholics — like myself — who came of age immediately after Vatican II and missed out on some of the basic teachings of the Church. (HERE is a story I did on this subject in the July 6, 2008 issue of OSV.)

As I say in my workshop, I was raised in the “era of the collage.” The intentions were good but the lessons weren’t always solid. Fortunately, I had a mom who was determined to make sure I got a good grounding in my faith no matter what was — or was not — being taught in CCD class. Not everyone was so lucky.

So, it was with great interest that I read stories about a recent conference at Fordham University that was focusing on a “lost generation,” only the generation in question is the 20-something generation of today. The follow-up stories shared the good news that this generation isn’t really lost at all.

Here’s a quote from CNS:

“Catholic young adults aren’t as attached to the church as their counterparts from the 1940s and 1950s, but they are hardly a lost generation and have not abandoned the faith, according to speakers at a two-day forum at Jesuit-run Fordham University.”

Notice who they’re looking at: Catholic young adults and their “counterparts” from the 1940s and 50s. What about their counterparts from the 1960s and 70s? Their parents? That is the original lost generation, my generation, the folks who were lost along the way as the Church changed the methods and content of catechesis.

I have heard from these people. They are hungry for a closer connection to their Church. They are pained by their inability to get the basics they need so they can re-enter in a meaningful way. They feel lost, abandoned, let down. And now we can see why. They are completely missing from the discussions on how to reach adult Catholics, still lost between their own parents and their children.

As I have said in workshops from the Archdiocese of Denver to the Archdiocese of Newark, if we do not recognize this truly lost generation of Catholics, we will not be able to recapture the not-lost, but drifting generation that’s coming along behind them. And the generations after that.

I see it in my own parish. I hear about every time I go out and speak on this topic. Here’s a snippet from a post I wrote on this subject two years ago after giving a two-hour workshop in the Diocese of Albany:

How do we reach out to adult Catholics who feel cut off from their faith? How do we coax them back into the fold in unintimidating ways that will make them feel part of a faith community? There are no easy answers, but it absolutely has to begin with community first and catechesis second.

We can’t expect people to show up for classes or meetings if they don’t feel like they are part of something, if they have no stake in their parish or church. We have to give them ownership, welcome them, talk to them, answer their questions, and drop our preconceived notions about why they may or may not attend Mass, why they send their kids to faith formation but don’t practice the faith at home. As I say in my talk, if they have any connection to the church at all — no matter how tenuous — it’s a sign that they are within our grasp and may be hungry for something more.

…We need to reach the parents through the kids, educate the parents by involving them in the faith education of their children, connect with the parents not through mandatory meetings but through acts of solidarity and subtle, even hidden, catechesis. In other words, by making our faith real to them through our words and actions.

…We need to show people that their spiritual community can be a refuge in the midst of the chaos. But that means that parishes need to be truly welcoming, truly community-minded, truly open to new people and new ideas…We cannot demand discipleship. Instead we must extend an invitation that is so meaningful and so enticing that it simply cannot be refused.

There is a lost generation, a group of middle-aged Catholics who were left behind in the 1960s and 70s and remain so completely lost to us that no one even seems to notice they’re gone. If we don’t find a way to bring them back into the fold, we are in danger of losing the generations that follow. Then there won’t be a lost generation but two or three lost generations.

A new look at the old Catechism

Word on the street — or at least the streets of Boston — is that my book was being sold ahead of schedule at Barnes & Noble. What? No security a la Harry Potter? I’m shocked — shocked! — I tell you. Actually, I’m just happy that it was on the shelf and someone was buying it. That alone makes this project a success, I think.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism is now online and on shelves (at least some), but the fun is only just beginning. This is my least favorite part of writing a book. I love the writing. Promotion, not so much. Then again, it is at times like this that I realize just how great the business of the Catholic press can be. It is not about competition but about camaraderie, and for that I am so incredibly grateful. One of the great blessings of being in the Catholic press is the willingness of other writers to share their abundance. Read more

Hot off the press

About 24 hours from now my new book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism (Alpha/Penguin), will be available online and in stores. Up until now I’ve been trying to temper my excitement with cautious pessimism, because that’s who I am, but a friend just emailed that amazon has shipped his copies, so I guess this book is for real after all.

What do you need to know about this book? It’s probably very different from what you’d expect of a catechism. It’s easy to read — fun, in fact — and yet it is completely faithful to the Church’s teachings and to the full Catechism of the Catholic Church, on which it is based. You are going to find lots of predictable things inside this book but even more surprising things. Read more